Archive for September, 2006

Optimization varies

Fungal specimen at unknown scale (snail is probably less than 1 cm across).

What is “optimum�? depends on time scale. Maybe not all the time, but most of the time.

For example, what’s the optimum time to go leaf peeping in north Georgia? That is, is “time�? an hour, day, weekend, week, month? The answer’s different every time.

Puzzling past

Life is a puzzle. Or, a series of puzzles. Certainly, marriage is! Perhaps it is that any complex system is a puzzle, therefore our ecosystem is a puzzle. Anyway, puzzles abound!

Take a look at changes in the sediment load of the Mississippi River from this NYT article. Of course, you notice first that the overall sediment load has dropped by more than half—yet, the dredges are still busy day and night keeping shipping channels open. Then you notice that the relative sizes of the upstream contributor-rivers has changed dramatically—the upper Miss itself has shifted from being a little stub to a multibranched load-carrier. Maybe next: still the largest single contributor-river is the Missouri. And: what’s the deal with that Atchafalaya drainage fork?

The question I’m left with: exactly which Mississippi River (and which Amazon Basin, which Yellowstone Park, etc.) are we talking about “returning�? to (also, see upper graphic)?

Mystery fungi

Several times, while hiking last weekend in Nantahala National Forest, we saw these distinctive 2.5 cm tall domed fungi, always this same brilliant orange.

Big Laurel

Today’s highlights were waterfalls! This is Big Laurel Falls, and we climbed through over a half-mile of knotty-rooted laurels to get to the gravity-water feature…. In fact, the laurels are so dense there, you see the falls in peek-a-boo pieces….

Standing Indian

For today’s excitement we summited Standing Indian, a peak west of Franklin, North Carolina, to lunch in the sun on a lovely, cozy outcrop with a westerly view through lush sumacs.

An un-Republican

Dewy Rose, Georgia, is ENE of Athens. Lovely name!

I’m not sure what I expected from ol’ Conan the Barbarian when he was elected governor of Kah-lee-forn-yah, but I never anticipated he’d sign on to such liberal energy policies, and other non-Republican, non-conservative policies, laws, and legislation. As mentioned there, the ramifications are significant if California flat out will not buy electricity from major polluters, although they may have painted themselves into a corner with natural gas being their only major energy source (coal and nuclear being excluded). Making roof panels a “standard option�? in home construction has a lot of merit, as does the switch to in-line (aka on-demand) water heaters….

Milestone of no importance this past week: outside temps have dropped sufficiently that we’re not living in constant AC, and I had to get a light quilt out the other night!

Divine intervention

This lovely ’shroom really was this delicate, pale lemon color.

One way to look at it is the gods were watching us this afternoon, and the dark gods removed our DSL connection for a few hours, while the gods of light prodded Apple to agree that they were taking just too darned long to fix the dysfunctional DVD player on our well-loved 12�? laptop—indeed, they said they didn’t know when they’d receive the replacement part, so…John’s magic kicked in, and they offered us a NEW, Intel core DUO, MacBook, black, with built-in iSight and all the other goodies (and including remote control!), whenever jcb showed up at the store.

Of course, he immediately braved rush hour traffic to scoot up to Lenox and nab it—took all of two minutes in the store, he said. That is customer service!

I confess to a few minutes of nostalgia for the old laptop, but I suspect that this one will become a boon companion (of the techno-sort) quite soon….

If you’re expecting me to mention the new date for the latest Neandertals, okay, here’s my take: could be a small relict population in southern Iberia, with the European mainland already cleared of the species and replaced by Early Moderns—that is, if the date is good, just as the good Dr. Finlayson (!) and his team report.

Fairlane 500

People treat cars differently down here than in the Midwest. You rarely see vehicles parked on the side of the road with a for sale sign in them. I don’t know if Southerners think it’s tacky, or they traditionally just do trade-ins.

You also tend not to see many shiny old cars that are the apple of someone’s eye. I found this Fairlane irresistible. It is probably no accident that it is black with red accents, as the premier Georgia university, the, duh, University of Georgia, is the home of the red and black. And the Red and Black is the student paper, cynically referred to as the Rude and Bleak. FYI.

Superior broom

Hopefully, today was the last day that the street in front of our house was a construction site. After all the digging and general construction mucking about, which would send my monitors into a minor earthquake-scale shaking frenzy, today we finally reached the asphalt phase. They’re working in the light summer drizzle right now, trying to finish covering all the red subsoil they exposed before it becomes goopy red mud.

I’ve never noticed any machine-kin to the Superior Broom that they used for several stages of cleanup, but here it is in all its glory. Note the fire extinguisher on top, I guess for when they have to work near, dare I say?, fireweed….

And, wasn’t it a good idea that John and I got the white car washed yesterday?

Dead myths

I have warmed to the section of the NYTimes where they explore “claims�? that are really popular myths. Here we learn that an oak’s annual acorn production does not predict the severity of the coming winter, but reflects the abundance of the previous spring and summer—including whether the weather was good for flowering and pollination, too.

Was this also true in the Hundred Acre Wood? Scientific logic says yes, but perhaps that’s just a myth….